Event Planning is a time-consuming job that requires the skills of an event coordinator. Some event coordinators have a background in hospitality management, while others are self-taught. Regardless of their background, with the right tools and training an event planner can be competent in this line of work. There are many aspects to event planning, including handling logistics, setting up the layout, figuring out catering needs, developing marketing strategies for the event, and much more.
I. Types of events:
A) Corporate Events:
-Business Meeting (Board of Directors, Shareholders’ meeting, etc.)
-Client Luncheon & Dinner (Convention, Gala Dinner, Reception, etc.)
-Team Building Event (Train the Trainer Seminars and Incentive Travel)
-Employee Recognition Event (Welcome Back Luncheon, Annual Banquet, etc.)
-Community Events (Charity Fundraisers, Sporting Tournaments and Games, Seminars for Residents of the Community)
B) Personal Events:
-Birthday Parties (Children’s & Adults’)
-Retirement Parties (Farewell Dinners, Retirement Gifts)
II. Basic Planning:
A) Location: Where will the event be held? Will it be catered or hosted at your home; a garden; a luscious ballroom? Often times venues will have rooms that can accommodate different numbers of guests, so knowing what size is needed for the event will eliminate any surprises after the venue has been booked.
B) Date & Time: Whether you are hosting a wedding or initiating a team building event, it’s important to pick an appropriate time for your event. Event planners should always refer to the event’s guest list to determine how long the event should last. The time allotted for each type of event is usually predetermined, so knowing whether your guests can stay for three hours or eight will allow you to choose an appropriate length.
C) Theme: This aspect of planning can be complex and sometimes expensive. If it’s important to you to have a specific theme, be sure to bring your ideas to the venue or caterer. Most venues and catering companies are open to doing customized menus for each event they host.
D) Budget: Budgets determine what is possible. Once the budget has been determined by you and whomever else will be involved in footing that bill, it’s important to decide how much leeway you are willing to give.
III. The Big Day:
A) Set-up & Decorations: Whether you are hosting an intimate dinner party or a huge gala event, decorations help set the mood for your guests. Although planning everything far in advance is ideal, there will always be something you could have planned better. Address all of the possible issues before the event and be sure to ask for help from your venue or caterer if you think there’s a chance they might not turn out as expected.
B) Guest list: It’s important to remember that it is your event and you can invite or uninvite whomever you’d like. However, if the guest list is too short, it gives the impression that no one wanted to attend your event. A tip: Invite more than you think you’ll need and then cut the list by 20%. Keep the name of anyone who RSVPs with a plus one and keep the list at the desired number.
C) Food & Drinks: Whether you are planning an elaborate meal or just hors d’oeuvres, it’s important to be realistic about how much your guests want and need. There is nothing more tedious than having to wait in line for food while trying not to spill champagne on someone else. Also, be sure to serve the food in an appropriate order. If you start with something heavy and greasy it might not be appetizing for your guests when they get to the more sophisticated dishes.
D) Music: Music is a huge factor in setting the mood of any event, but most importantly it helps create a flow that allows for nothing to be interrupted. There is nothing worse than a guest being led on the dance floor only to have their song end just as it starts because a caterer needs your attention for something completely irrelevant.
E) Clean-up: Unless you are hosting an event at a venue that has staff, make sure the guests know that it is their responsibility to clean up after themselves. After all, they are the ones who broke everything in the first place!
IV. The Follow-Up:
A) Thank your guests for coming and make sure to remind them when and where you’d like them to RSVP by. If you sent out invitations, be sure to include a pre-addressed stamped envelope for their convenience.
B) Send a follow up to anyone who did not attend. Be sure to include a reason why you were disappointed that they couldn’t make it and let them know what was going on in case they missed something interesting. Make sure to send thank you cards to anyone who helped out with the event.
C) If it’s a large event, consider sending an email to your guests with photos of the best parts. This not only helps them reminisce but also reminds them that they are invited to the next one!
D) Send out surveys asking for feedback about anything from the food to the entertainment. Change what needs changing and leave the rest the way it was.
V. Follow Up After Follow-Up:
A) If you plan on hosting another event at the same venue, be sure to get in touch with them about preferred vendors or whatever else you might need that they will suggest for future events.
B) If you are planning on sending out many more follow-up emails, consider making a MailChimp account to keep track of all of your guests. This will not only save you time in searching for each person’s address but it will also ensure that you don’t accidentally email the same person twice.
C) Try not to get too caught up with planning your next event while still trying to enjoy the one you just hosted. Be sure to take a moment and be proud of what you accomplished before jumping right into the next thing!